Meeting New People

I honestly don’t even know where to start with this week, so I will start at the beginning. On Monday three new eco volunteers came to help out for three days. They were a family: a mother from Colombia and two daughters, age eight and nine, both born in Texas. Each one of them spoke three languages fluently: English, Spanish, and Portuguese. They were some of the kindest and most open-minded people I have ever met. I enjoyed getting to know each one of them and help make their experience here at Projecto Lontra unforgettable. It was really the first time here that I began to feel like a professional in this career which I really enjoyed. 

Halfway through the week, my coworker’s friend  came to visit and volunteer for a few days. He was very kind and though he spoke little English he helped me to learn a little bit more Portuguese, and these newfound Portuguese skills were put to the test when my coworker and him invited me to go to the bars with them. I’m not gonna lie I was a little terrified at first but I am determined to see and do all that I can during my time in Brazil so I decided to go with them. Though I was nervous at first I ended up having a lot of fun and got to better experience the social aspect of the culture. Everyone I met while out was super friendly and very understanding and patient with the fact that I don’t understand much of the language. In fact several times they would tell a story in Portuguese and repeat what they could in English for me so I wouldn’t feel so left out. It honestly warms my heart and makes me so happy to be around such genuine people all the time.

 I also got to try a chicken heart hot dog while out, which was very interesting, not terrible, but I probably won’t be eating again anytime soon. 

The week was finished off by a hike to a village that can only be accessed by hiking and by some shopping with an American friend that I have made during my time here. 

So far I feel like I have broadened my horizons so much and can’t wait to see what the future weeks hold.

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The Week I Cuddled An Otter

Now that I am through my second week of being in Brazil I am finally starting to get the hang of things. Work is fairly consistent in its daily tasks but some days we go on treks and this weeks were very difficult. The week started with a three hour canoe trip around the lagoa, which believe me was not easy. But it allowed me to see some amazing sights such as ten feet tall cacti, and a capybara. After that my muscles got a couple days to relax before we went on a trek over a mountain… twice. It was definitely one of the hardest physical activities I have ever done and there were definitely moment that I didn’t think I was going to be able to continue, but with the help of my motivational and patient coworker Pricilla, I made it! 

Looking back at the difficulties of this week has helped me realize that I am a stronger person that I thought I was; physically and emotionally. I am beginning to find enjoyment in the beauty of Brazil rather than being homesick and have found mechanisms to cope with feeling alone. I definitely still have my moments of feeling depressed but I can honestly say that I am really starting to love it here.

My favorite part of this week was yesterday. When I was feeling alone and bored my coworker knocked on my door, so I unlocked it and in came an otter, Nana. She is the sweetest little thing and definitely loves being around humans. We got to sit outside with Nana as she explored the yard and used us as human chew toys. After a while she got tired out and crawled into my lap. My heart melted. It was one of those rare moments in life where I was reminded that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and that the career I am pursuing is perfect for me. I cannot wait to see what the future weeks of this internship hold (hopefully more otter snuggles).

Week One= Done

Well this week has been a whirlwind of emotions, to say the least. I’ve never been outside of North America, nevertheless by myself. So, leaving my family to travel to Brazil was mildly terrifying. I was sad to leave my family, excited to get to travel, and worried something bad would happen. But now that I’ve been here for a week, my original nerves have begun to settle.

Brazil is amazing. It’s like a whole different world here than I am used to. It’s constantly humid and warm, which is nice during the day, but not so much when trying to sleep. The wildlife is absurdly beautiful. On day one I saw monkeys, toucans, kimono dragons, and of course otters. The otters are amazing, and working with them makes me so happy. They make the cutest sounds and will do anything for fish. I also get to work with Iraras, an animal closely related to otters, but are much more social, and they love to be petted and give kisses.

I havent done a ton of exploring outside Projecto Lontra, where I am staying, but I have gone to the beach and a couple stores around the area. Luckily, I have found a few American food/drink items that I keep buying to keep from getting homesick; such as Frosted Flakes, Pringles, Sprite, and Nestle chocolate. It has been quite the change getting used to being in a different country because there are many situations here that I am not used to, like seeing dogs wander around without owners, or having monkeys constantly in the trees overhead.

All in all, my time here so far has been wonderful, but I still miss my home, family, and friends, but I am determined to stick this out and continue learning!

Week one down, nine more to go!

Boa Noite!

I’m Here… Now What?

Hello beautiful people of the world, and welcome to my blog!

So for those of you that don’t know my name is Jordan Smith-Martinez and I am a 3rd year zoology student at Oregon State University (Go Beavs!). At this point in my life I have realized that things are changing, and though they are wonderful changes they still scare me to death because becoming an adult and being on my own is scary to me. All of my life I have struggled to figure out who I am and what I stand for, and though I am starting to figure it out it comes at a time of increased responsibility and overall stress.

As I figure out the rest of my story I feel it is important to keep track of how I got to where I am now, and how I grow in the future. My past has been good. My extended family is unnecessarily dysfunctional (Which I am sure you will all learn more about later), but I was raised by my strong independent mother and my loving step-dad. They are wonderful role-models and I am constantly trying to make them proud because of all they have done to support me. It is because of this that I applied for an internship abroad for the fall 2017 term, and I GOT ACCEPTED! As it is looking I will be working at an otter conservation institute in Brazil next fall and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Working with otters is without a doubt my dream job and I have always wanted to travel so this opportunity means the world to me. But, as I mentioned, change is scary so I do have some reservations about going, but I won’t let that stop me from taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

This blog will allow my to record my progress preparing for and experiencing this whole internship as well as, hopefully, being a resource for future students that get this opportunity.

Anyways, long story short, I hope you all enjoy reading about my experience attempting to be on my own in a foreign country, and you will probably learn a lot about me real fast!

Much love,

JSM